Cardinals tackle D.J. Humphries is introduced before the game in which he suffered his season-ending knee injury last season.
D.J. Humphries had never been hurt before, at least so far as to need major surgery.
So when the left tackle hurt his right knee during the Thursday night game against the Seahawks last season, there was a flash of panic, believing for sure his ACL was torn.
"I was like, 'Just get me off the field. I know everything in there is blown out,' " Humphries said Thursday night during an interview on the final "Big Red Rage" radio show of the season. "When they did the MRI, or even when the doctors felt it, they knew it wasn't the ACL. I was like, 'Cool, everything else, we can deal with.' "
Humphries is rehabbing now, staying confident about his situation. He doesn't know exactly when his return to play might be – he's staying optimistic he can be back for training camp – but at least "I'm getting my dance moves back and such," he said with a smile.
The Cardinals need Humphries, who right now seems like one of the few offensive certainties for a team with a new coaching staff. Every team wants to lock down a good left tackle, and the Cards believe the 2015 first-round pick was progressing that way in 2017 – until injuries got in the way.
Humphries sprained his knee eight offensive plays into the season. He returned a few weeks later and was happy with his progress over four games before his season-ending dislocated kneecap, torn quad and torn medial patellofemoral ligament.
But that same positive outlook Humphries carries with him on a daily basis has helped him in his return.
"As a kid I developed the mind-state of, 'Alright cool, that's messed up but I've got to figure out how to get to the next one,' " Humphries said. "Kind of like, the house is burning down but I've still got to get my stuff out. I condition myself to think like that."
Humphries is approaching the change in coaches – with Steve Wilks replacing Bruce Arians, along with subsequent staff
transition to come – the same way.
"For me, personally, optimism is key," Humphries said. "Nothing is going to work if we don't buy in."
As he noted during the season, at age 24 he is a much different person – and player – than the man who was taken in the first round and subsequently spent his rookie season inactive for every game.
"I've had to realize, 'Bro, this is not a game,' " Humphries said. " 'People are not here playing with you.' You are spending a lot of people's money in this building that are expecting a return on investment and you're making them look stupid right now. When that started to click for me … that's growing up."
But Humphries also wears his history proudly, because it ultimately got him to where he is – and, he insists, it'll get him to where he wants to go.
"It's something that, if you have a really good career, that's the focal point of the talk in like, 15 years. Know what I mean?" Humphries said. "I think about it often. 'Yeah, it was tough there for a minute but when we have the Hall of Fame speech, that's what we're going to be talking about. We'll be talking about me being on the bench my rookie year.'
"That's the type of stuff I remind myself of, that if I lose this chip, I'll be back on the bench."
Black and white images during 2017 home games